- Mike Grimala, ESPNHS
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Holy Cross-Waterbury (11-1) vs. Cromwell (10-2)
Friday, 6:30 p.m.
This is a classic matchup between a dominant running team and an unstoppable passing attack. Holy Cross loves to pound it, with a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in Dave DiGiorgi and Adrian Brown, while Cromwell features the most prolific quarterback in the state in Anthony Morales (42 TD passes).
Holy Cross has the personnel up front to dominate the line of scrimmage and possess the ball. If the Crusaders can control the clock, I can see them winning a fairly low-scoring game.
HOLY CROSS 21, CROMWELL 20
Ansonia (13-0) vs. Ledyard (11-1)
Saturday, 10:30 a.m.
Understatement alert: Ansonia will lean on running back Arkeel Newsome in this game. The sophomore running back has already run for more than 3,300 yards on the season, and he's scored 54 touchdowns. So yeah, expect Newsome to get a few carries. For Ledyard, it will be about defense. The Colonels haven't allowed a single point in their past two games, so Newsome will have his work cut out. Also, Ledyard has a stud running back of its own in Alex Manwaring (more than 2,000 yards this year).
This game turns into a land war between Manwaring and Newsome, with both approaching 200 yards for the game. But Newsome's breakaway ability (and dominant offensive line) wear down the Colonels and Ansonia pulls away in the fourth quarter.
ANSONIA 28, LEDYARD 14
Daniel Hand (12-0) vs. New Canaan (11-1)
Saturday, 2 p.m.
New Canaan looked dead in the water last week, trailing undefeated Windsor 24-7 in the second quarter. But quarterback Matt Milano led the Rams all the way back for a last-second victory. Daniel Hand also scored style points for its win last week, as the Tigers took down the top team in the state in routing Masuk, 35-14. Nick Vitale caught 12 passes for 148 yards in the win.
Hand has played great defense all season, especially last week in holding the state's most explosive offense to just 14 points. But New Canaan proved it can light up the scoreboard in a hurry by storming back to beat Windsor. I think the Rams ride the hot hand of Milano and spoil another perfect season, making up for last year's loss in the Class L title game.
NEW CANAAN 35, DANIEL HAND 21
Xavier (12-0) vs. Staples (11-0)
Saturday, 5:30 p.m.
Staples has a stable of backs who can carry the load (Joey Zelkowitz, Jon Heil, Nick Kelly), but NO ONE moves the ball against Xavier. The Falcons have an historic defense that allowed just eight points per game on the season, including three shutouts. Senior linebacker Jovan Santos is legitimately terrifying, racking up a team-high seven sacks, while senior defensive back Ryan Jacobucci has seven interceptions (one returned for a TD).
With two quality defenses on the field, I see this one staying close for most of the night. But Staples isn't diverse enough on offense to have success against the Xavier D. Look for the Falcons to crack it open in the second half, with Jacobucci making a big play to change the game, either an INT or a big reception.
XAVIER 17, STAPLES 7
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